John Harris, PhD candidate
David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
Playing games with preexisting social relations, such as family and friends, has been shown to help strengthen relationships and promote well-being, but it can be difficult to find games that provide both enriching social interactions and are able to accommodate the wide variety of player types, ability levels, genre preferences, and social roles that each player brings to the group dynamic.
Asymmetric cooperative games — games that present their players with sharply contrasting aesthetic experiences in the same shared play space — are well-positioned to tackle this multi-faceted problem by providing different players with different interfaces, challenges, abilities, and information while tightly coupling their interactions through shared goals and feedback.
In this seminar, I will discuss the results of a player experience study contrasting asymmetric cooperative play with symmetric cooperative play in the same custom prototype game while controlling for visual and narrative aesthetics. Further, I reflect on the practical challenges of translating theoretical researching goals into concrete design choices and the difficulty of predicting and interpreting participant feedback within the complex space of asymmetric cooperative game design.